Youth leads New York City FC to 3-1 win over Rochester New York FC

May 11, 2022; Jamaica, New York, USA; Rochester New York FC defender Gerardo Lopez (2) and New York City FC forward HŽber (9) battle for control of the ball in the first half at Belson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2022; Jamaica, New York, USA; Rochester New York FC defender Gerardo Lopez (2) and New York City FC forward HŽber (9) battle for control of the ball in the first half at Belson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

On Wednesday night, New York City FC faced Rochester New York FC in their first match of the U.S. Open Cup for 2022.  After two years without the tournament due to COVID-19, the Pigeons looked to repeat their 2019 performance where they made it to the quarterfinals.  Of course, the team would prefer to go all the way, and add another trophy to their cabinet.

Meanwhile, Rochester had already played against NYCFC II, and lost 3-2 to the MLS Next Pro side.  Even though NYCFC is an entirely different roster, it was not surprising that Ronny Deila chose a younger Starting XI, and gave starts to players like Andres Jasson and Kevin O’Toole.  Still, veterans like Maxi Moralez and Maxime Chanot were in the lineup, so Deila wanted to give the youth a chance, but also fight for a win.

There was some criticism before the game though.  When the lineup was posted on Twitter, some fans thought Deila was not taking the Open Cup seriously.  However, the earlier rounds often see Major League Soccer teams field players who do not always get playing time, especially against lower tier sides.

Sure, it was not NYCFC’s best performance, but they got the goals, and finished the job.  The Pigeons beat Rochester, 3-1, with Thiago, Héber, and Chanot leading the Pigeons to the win, and into the next round of the Open Cup.

New York City FC beat Rochester New York FC in U.S. Open Cup 4th Round

Whereas the game was not perfect, the younger New York City FC players did shine throughout the match.  Jasson had one of his best matches, splitting his time in the defense and attack.  He did well defensively, for he made significant clearances and interceptions.  He was also an offensive threat like he normally is, and did well with crosses in the final third.

It was NYCFC who scored first though, and the goal arrived thanks to two of the three young Brazilians.  In the 23rd minute, Gabriel Pereira manoeuvred the ball toward the goal.  At the same time, he looked for an open player, and spotted his fellow Brazilian, Thiago, running toward goal.  As such, Pereira put the ball in the air, and with perfect connection, it landed right at Thiago.  The young winger then flicked the ball with one touch, and chipped it over Rochester’s goalkeeper, Phillip Ejimadu, and into the back of the net.  There was no save to be made, for Ejimadu was too far off his line.

In addition, Pereira was a menace for Rochester throughout the entire 90 minutes, with the exception of when he was sent off due to a second yellow card in second half stoppage time.  He ran all over the midfield, co-managing the direction of play with Moralez.  Defensively, Rochester players found him running out of nowhere, pressuring them when they had the ball.

At the same time, other players like O’Toole and Vuk Latinovich, who do not get MLS playing time, had the opportunity to impress Deila.  They played decently, although O’Toole did struggle playing outside of his normal forward position.  It was a good thing Chanot was in the back with them though, for he did have to make some critical clearances.  Alfredo Morales had to continuously move into the backline as well.

Without some of the veterans, there was a real threat that Rochester could have scored more goals.  And as mentioned, it was Héber and Chanot who scored the other two for the Pigeons.  Although, Santiago Rodríguez directed his corner kick to Chanot to get that third goal, once again illuminating the impact of the youth.  Nevertheless, the mix of veterans, youth, normal starters, and players who rarely play, worked out for Deila, for NYCFC is moving on.

On another note, a shout out must be made to the “traveling” NYCFC fans.  While the match at Belson Stadium was considered a home game, of course it was not the Pigeons’ true home.  Hence, the ESPN commentators continuously mentioned the “traveling supporters”, which in one way is hysterical.  Many fans have to travel to watch games at Yankee Stadium, for they come from all over New York City and outside of the boroughs.

As such, those who attended the fixture should not be called traveling supporters, for the match was still inside New York City.  At the same time, NYCFC has been everywhere this year, especially with their “home” fixtures.  Since the Pigeons do travel from stadium to stadium,  it is fitting the team played in another stadium.  At this rate, the “traveling” Pigeons are just a part of the 2022 story for New York City FC.

Skyscraper Blues
Skyscraper Blues /

Want your voice heard? Join the Skyscraper Blues team!

Write for us!